Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Songs of the Season

At Scottsville Baptist Church we kick off the holiday season by making Advent wreaths.  On Sunday we lit the first purple candle. Soon the sanctuary will be adorned with greenery and a tree of Chrismons.  Musicals, parties, caroling, missions, and candlelit services will fill December with joy.

Christmas is also great for all the holly, jolly Hallmark-y reasons.  I can quote Elf and own a Clark W. Griswold t-shirt.  Christmas is my jam.  I love the holidays and I'm a glass half full lady; however for these first days of the Christian new year I listen to the contemplative, serious carols of the season.

The Christmas story in Matthew is not all tinsel and bows.  Joseph was told in a dream that his family must leave Bethlehem.  Herod was foaming at the mouth to destroy the Christ child, so in the dead of night Joseph woke his family and they hightailed it to Egypt.  The holy family were refugees on the run. 

Herod went on to commit atrocities so evil we don't like to speak them aloud any time of the year--much less at Christmas.  Part of my Advent discipline is to listen to Coventry Carol and mourn that the world was not and is not as it should be.

Listening to serious carols during Advent is a way of lamenting brokenness--then and now.  It is also a prayerful way of lifting up and remembering those who are not in a holly, jolly way this season.  They sit beside us in the pews and next to us at work.  People grieve the loss of loved ones.  Ornaments and traditions hold memories--some of which are painful.  Every family has broken relationships--sometimes seemingly beyond repair. The plight of refugees is real.  Fleeing oppressors did not end with the holy family's journey to Egypt. 

Pray this season to notice those for whom Christmas is complicated.  Reach out to the lonely and weary.  Make room at your table.  Visit folks who are missing a spouse.  Don't insist people emote in certain ways.  Feel free to be cheerful, but make room grieving and tears.

Seek ways to aid refugees in your neighborhood.  Look out for the widows and widowers and orphans.  Give to missions and non-profits who minister to those in need.  Read the entire Christmas story and reach out to the world.

Make room for serious carols during Advent.  It's important.  

"...and in His name all oppression shall cease."

Thursday, September 8, 2016

About Those Behind the Scenes People...

In the church we laud behind the scenes work and rightly so.  Often these workers receive no applause and most don't want it anyway. Accolades aren't their fuel:  Obedience to Christ is.

As a pastor I often get to witness these folks at work and I've discovered it's crowded behind the curtain!  I keep bumping into people quietly serving their neighbors. Gifts of finances, time, listening ears, prayer, meal invitations--these are just a few things.

It's hopeful and humbling.  

The church isn't perfect, but when behind the scenes work becomes the norm the church grows healthier by the minute.  Grateful for the busyness behind the Scottsville Baptist curtain.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

All Creatures of Our God and King

Eula has been a member of the choir for 60 years.  Just before our Christmas cantata Eula gave a speech about the importance of choir in her life.  There wasn't a dry eye in the room.  Eula is great, and has a wonderful sense of humor.  

A few months ago Eula led us in worship by singing a solo.  Ordinarily I am seated in a pulpit chair, but that day I sat in the front pew.  The congregation was quiet and engaged until all of a sudden the baptismal curtain just behind Eula began to tremble rather violently.  

I had no time to entertain the thought "Is Jesus back?" because I soon saw a furry paw reach out from the side of the curtain.  

JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL.

Since I am the pastor, I feel like it's my duty to take care of business when something goes awry.  FYI:  I am not really an animal person.  I serve a congregation of farmers and hunters and they know this about me.  Once I was told "Dressing a buck is not your spiritual gift."  I am not one with nature in general.  LOVE nature from afar.  Up close?  No.

Anyway, there's a furry paw in front of me and I'm the pastor and I've got to respond to this situation.  Raccoon, large rat, possum, chicken (furry ones exist I've learned)--who or whatever you are, Pastor Katie is at the ready.

But before I had time to guess what I'd encounter at our River Jordan the neighborhood cat sauntered (no other way to describe it) out from behind the curtain and onto the baptismal ledge--which had then become a literal catwalk.

I nearly died of hysteria. 

I am ill prepared to be serious in such moments, but my better instincts took over. I had a job to do:  Get the cat out of the sanctuary without disturbing the special music. Cat was in full view of the entire church and she was strutting as if this was her one shining moment.  Who could blame her?  Repeat:  She was on a CATWALK.

See baptismal curtain, catwalk, pulpit chairs, and side exit.  Photo credit:  Elizabeth Liebermann.

I devised a plan:  Stealthily dart behind Eula to retrieve the cat--but oh-so-carefully because I was wearing a dress.  There is only so much darting one can achieve in a dress.  I am also short and the big pulpit chairs were in my way--so I would need to climb them without bending over and also lovingly coax a cat down from her baptistery catwalk.  

All of my studies prepared me for this moment. 

My plan mostly worked except the cat did NOT want to leave, so she meowed and tried to scratch me.  I open the side door (which is approximately wide enough to accommodate a Barbie), accidentally slammed it, and the congregation thinks I have fallen and can't get up--all while praises to Jesus are sung.  Shout out to Eula and Janice (pianist) who sang and played the whole time.

I waited until Eula finished singing to reappear from the Barbie side exit to explain what happened.  The congregation erupted in laughter including Eula.  When Eula later told her daughter, Jennifer, what happened, Jennifer bought Eula a cat purse.  A few weeks later the neighborhood cat was seemingly waiting for her BFF Eula after choir practice and voila we snapped this photo. 


Wonderful Eula pictured with our neighborhood cat and her new purse.  Photo credit:  Angela Grandstaff.
Eula, thank you for loving choir, loving cats, and being a great sport!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Handbellz

John Cashion, Music Minister Extraordinaire, introduced the 4th graders of my home church to hand bells.  I'm so glad he did!  John is an excellent teacher and a lot of fun.  Thank you, John! (Thank you also for being patient as I gingerly removed NKOTB buttons to prevent bell clanking.)

You can imagine my joy when I found two octaves of hand bells at Scottsville Baptist!  In November I mentioned starting a hand bell choir to Hallie, our Coordinator of Family Ministries. Her response: "I'm in.  Let's do it.  Can we be ready for Christmas?"  Hallie's enthusiasm = on point. 

We invited the church to join in and as it turned out a hand bell all-star was in our midst!  Michael, our leader, has years of experience and is well-versed in the hand bell lexicon.  We learned nuances like Shelley ringing, damping, and shaking.  Others joined us and we now have a bonafide hand bell choir, or as I like to call us:  Handbellz. 

Handbellz lead in worship on Pentecost. 
 Back (L to R):  Matt Earman, Hallie Earman. Front (L to R):  Lisa Turner, Victoria Melander, Katie McKown, Matt Stone, Stephanie Stone, Erin Goolsby.  Leader: Michael Goolsby
 


Erin is working on Handbellz t-shirt.  Someone wondered "Where would we wear a Handbellz t-shirt?"  The better question is "Where wouldn't we wear a Handbellz t-shirt?" We're having fun.

We are players of all ages comprised mostly of millennials.  Who would've guessed that?  I love it. We are helping one another learn and look forward to playing more often.  It's a privilege to help lead in worship. 


Handbellz Rehearsal.
Perhaps you're wondering "Are there people playing in the baptistery?"
The answer is yes. Shout out bass clef. 

Shout out also to my Washington Nationals Coffee Mug
 
Handbellz:  Behind the Music. 
Stephanie (L) and Hallie (R) prepare the foam.
 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Worship Guide for a Snowy Sunday

Hello Scottsville Baptist Church!  Since we will not be gathering for Sunday worship at 690 Harrison Street, I wanted to provide you a worship guide to use at your home.  Feel free to tweak!

The peace of God be with you! 

Opening Prayer:  Invite everyone gathered to say a sentence prayer giving thanks and praise to God

Hymn:  Sing a verse of a favorite hymn or praise song

Scripture Reading:  Luke 5:1-11 (our passage for next Sunday)  

Reflection Questions and Thoughts
For Children:  Tell about a time you went fishing.  How did you catch fish?  How did Jesus tell Peter to catch fish?  How many fish were caught when Jesus was in the boat?  In verse 10 what did Jesus tell Peter he would catch?  Why did Jesus tell Peter he would fish for people?

For Adults:  What do we learn about Peter in this passage?  What do we learn about Jesus?  How does this story intersect with your life?  Consider how God might be calling you to follow.

Hymn:  Listen to a favorite hymn or praise song.
For Children:  Color the story while listening.  Print out a coloring page here (adults can color too!)

Joys and Concerns:  Share prayer requests and praises.  Pray for our church.

Here we are!  Photo Credit:  Elizabeth Liebermann

And finally...enjoy table fellowship!  Bonus points for those who prepare fish for lunch or dinner (fish sticks count!).

See you soon!
 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Your Tears Are Welcome Here

When people cry in Sunday School, worship, my office, or anywhere else I often say "Your tears are welcome here."  Crying is part of life, and we tear up for all sorts of reasons. It is natural the church collects so many.

Today I cried mid-sermon.  I can count on one hand the number of times this has happened.  A year ago I would have been embarrassed by my tears, but not so much any more.  Baptisms, funerals, professions of faith, silent suffering, strife in the world, sickness, prayers, weddings, worries, the return of a prodigal--these moments are the creators of waterworks, happy and sad.

I could feel a lump welling in my throat for a minute or two, but one sentence in particular was the culprit: "Jesus healed the untouchable with a touch."  That Jesus heals with what we simultaneously fear and hope for is grace.

But to be fair I think these tears had been welling all week.

Dedicating a baby to the Lord will do it.



Spending a week with Romans 8 will do it.  

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Watching a gaggle of children in biblical garb will do it.  


Making Advent wreaths with the church will do it. 



Sharing table fellowship with Buildings and Grounds will do it.  Praying with Karen will do it. Talking to our missionaries in Arizona will do it.  You never know when tears will surprise you.

So whether you are crying tears of celebration, mourning, doubt, gratitude, or conviction this season, know you have a place at Scottsville Baptist. Your tears are welcome here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

All of My Life I Have Attended Scottsville Baptist

(Note:  A version of this testimony was shared by Pat Pitts at the 175th Anniversary program.)

All of my life I have attended Scottsville Baptist Church.  Church and Scottsville Baptist are synonymous with me.  On Easter Sunday, 1955, along with two friends, one of whom is here today, I walked down the aisle to be received by Pastor John Elliott and officially joined the church and gave my life to Christ.

Pat singing in the children's choir (Pat is in the second row on the far right)

One Sunday morning many years ago we had a confrontational episode in Sunday School.  It was haunting and worrying me greatly until the worship service as I waited in the back to help take up the offering I literally felt God's presence say to me "Don't worry, it's all going to be alright."  Truly a burden was lifted from me...

Pat (in yellow) and his VBS class (2015)

I have seen God at work through our former pastors and I now see and feel God's presence in our pastor and the wonderful things that are happening in our Scottsville Baptist Church.  I feel certain we can have another 175 years of successful and meaningful ministry in our wonderful, little town. 

Pat and his wife Baxter enjoy the choir party.